Bookmark and Share

Climate change and human health

A report was released in 2008 on the health impacts of climate change in Canada. The Health Canada report “Human Health in a Changing Climate: A Canadian Assessment of Vulnerabilities and Adaptive Capacity” is a study of the latest scientific evidence on the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on the health of Canadians today and also in the future. Recommendations for future actions and knowledge gaps are presented in the report to better protect the health of Canadians from climate change.

It is expected that climate change would increase health risks to Canadians in a number of ways including:

(1) The food we consume;
(2) The air we breathe;
(3) The water we drink;
(4) Exposure to extreme weather episodes;
(5) Infectious diseases more present in the environment as a result of climate change.

Health effects from climate change can be caused by direct and indirect exposures. Direct exposures include deaths and injuries resulting from altered weather (major storms) and excessive heat episodes. On the other hand, indirect exposures are described as changes occurring to other systems when there is a change in climate. Examples are (1) the higher incidence of infectious disease outbreaks due to altered vector host ranges, (2) food or water-borne contamination, and (3) the increased formation of smog.

Some key conclusions of the Health Canada climate change health risk assessment report are summarized below:

  1. Climate change is taking place and affecting natural and human systems in Canada but also elsewhere;
  2. Predicted scenarios indicate the occurrence of more extreme weather events (floods, droughts, forest fires, heat waves) which will affect the health and increase the risks to Canadians;
  3. Air quality is probably affected by climate change which would result in higher health risks;
  4. Increased levels of some infectious diseases are predicted due to climate change.

A full issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Climate Change and the Health of the Public summarizes many scientific aspects of climate change and health.

Additional information on the health impacts of climate change in Canada and internationally is available below.

Canadian Climate Change Scenarios Network (CCCSN)

Canadian International Development Agency – Climate Change

David Suzuki Foundation – climate change – impacts and solutions

EcoACTION – Canada’s Action on Climate Change

Environment Canada - Canada’s Action on Climate Change

European Commission (EC) – Environment – climate change

Health Canada – climate change and health

Health Canada Report – “Human health in a changing climate: a Canadian assessment of vulnerabilities and adaptive capacity”

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability

Natural Resources Canada – Atlas of Canada – Climate Change

The Royal Society – science issues – climate change

Statistics Canada – Climate Change in Canada – Annual Statistics

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – climate change – health and environmental effects

United Nations (UN) - framework convention on climate change

World Health Organization – climate change and human health

Home             Links              Sitemap               Contact Us
© McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment